Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) Meeting #4

NOTE: PDFs of meeting minutes, presentations, and attachments are available upon request.

Date of Meeting: Feb 25, 2019, 6:30 pm
Location: Father Serra Separate School, 111 Sun Row Drive, Etobicoke
Minutes prepared by: AECOM

Quick Links:

  1. Overview
  2. Attendance
  3. Introduction
  4. Eglinton West LRT Update - Presentation
  5. Eglinton West Planning & Streetscape Study - Presentation
  6. Breakout Sessions
  7. Next Steps & Adjournment


Overview

On Monday, February 25, 2019, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the City of Toronto together with the TTC hosted a Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) meeting for the Eglinton West LRT. The purpose of the SAG is to provide organizations representing a broad range of interests with the opportunity to learn about and provide input into the study. This meeting focused on:

  • Eglinton West LRT updates, including study findings;
  • The Planning and Streetscape study; and,
  • Next steps.

The format of the meeting included a welcome and overview, a presentation of Eglinton West LRT updates, and a presentation of the Eglinton West Planning and Streetscape Study followed by two (2) breakout discussion sessions focusing on the Planning and Streetscape Study and the Options Analysis. The minutes below outline the questions, comments and feedback received during the SAG meeting.


Attendance

SAG Members:

Tony Monzie, Tracie Napoli, Eli Aaron, John DiSalvo, Rosemary DiSalvo, Frank Pallotta, Janice Charles, Don Charles, Raymond Dell’Aera, Christina Manulak, Michael Tkach, Aaron Cameron, Paul Rycroft, Husein Kirefu, Deqa Nur, Nadia Swaby, Marion O’Sullivan, Adam Mitchell, Tyler Lalonde, Zamani Ra, Dorian Douma

CWG Members:

Philip Poulos, Joseph Lorincz, Christopher Solecki, Janice Charles, John Di Salvo, Don Charles

Project Team Members - City of Toronto:

Mike Logan, Jade Hoskins, Michael Hain, Emilia Floro, Brian Anders, Khatija Sahib

Project Team Members - TTC:

Dominic Ho

Councillors and Representatives

Amelia ter Brugge on behalf of Councillor Stephen Holyday,
Trent Jennett on behalf of Councillor Michael Ford

Perkins + Will:

Paul Kulig, Clara Romero

AECOM:

Alicia Evans, Tiffany Dionne


Introduction

Alicia Evans (AECOM) opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and asked all attendees and staff to introduce themselves and their organization. She then provided the following meeting objectives:

  • To provide an update on the study findings, including the Options Analysis; Martin Grove and traffic studies, and the Planning and Streetscape Study; and,
  • To gather additional feedback on the study findings and input into the recommendations to Council in April 2019.

Alicia noted that the meeting would take place in two (2) parts – presentations followed by two (2) breakout sessions focusing on the Planning and Streetscape Study and the Options Analysis. She asked that only questions of clarification be asked during the presentations as attendees would have opportunities to ask detailed questions during the breakout sessions.

Mike Logan (City of Toronto) informed attendees that the presentations would be distributed to everyone via email following the meeting.


Eglinton West LRT Update Presentation

Mike Logan (City of Toronto) provided a presentation about updates on the Eglinton West LRT Project since the last SAG meeting in August, 2018 including:

  • Project overview;
  • Evaluation of LRT options;
  • Martin Grove and Eglinton West Functional Planning Study;
  • Commuter Parking Study;
  • Eglinton West Planning and Streetscape Study; and,
  • Next steps.

Questions for Clarification

All questions were answered by Mike Logan (City of Toronto) unless noted otherwise.

Q1: Can you specify what will be added to the Eglinton corridor to improve the Martin Grove and Eglinton intersection?

A1: Changes would not be made to the intersection itself but to the connections west of Martin Grove. Although these changes are significant, they would only contribute to a travel time savings of one (1) minute across the Eglinton corridor in 2041. The City will not be providing final plans for the Martin Grove and Eglinton area to Council in April 2019 but may recommend further work based on technical analysis conducted to date.


Q2: What percentage of people driving through Eglinton and Martin Grove live within the area corridor and are using the corridor to travel to/ from home, as compared to those living outside of the area and are simply travelling through?

A2: The City can look through the analysis report to find out if we have a statistic available to provide to you.

Post Meeting Note: In the AM peak, the GTAModel v4 suggests that 36% of those using the intersection are from the area bounded by Etobicoke Creek, Eglinton, Highway 401, Humber River, Dundas St., and Burnhamthorpe Rd. This data is modelled, so actual conditions may be different.


Q3: The focus of the Eglinton West study should be on local residents, not on commuters who use our neighbourhood streets to get to Mississauga. Does the City know how many local residents drive through the Eglinton and Martin Grove area?

A3: The traffic analysis report includes information regarding traffic infiltration on community streets. We can have a one-on-one conversation about this following the presentation.


Q4: How much time does each LRT Option take to get downtown from Eglinton Avenue West?

A4: It depends on where you are coming from. The more stops the LRT has, the better connections it will provide to other forms of public transit (e.g., bus) and pedestrians and cyclists. The fewer stops the LRT has, the faster it will be able to get passengers downtown.


Q5:  I can travel from Etobicoke to downtown in 25 minutes using GO. If it will take me 1.5 hours to travel downtown using the Eglinton West LRT versus 25 minutes using GO, why would I choose the LRT? Perhaps we shouldn’t be considering the LRT and instead expand the GO line. We want a fast way to get downtown.

A5: If you live close to a GO Station then GO transit will probably be the most efficient way to travel downtown. Other people require transportation choices to travel to and from their preferred destinations, which may not be downtown. The main objective of the Eglinton West LRT is not about travelling downtown. The Project’s objectives are to provide a connection west to the airport corporate centre and provide connections to other forms of transportation and destinations in the local area and throughout the region.


Q6: The number one (1) issue in our community is that seniors are situated far from transit options, making it hard for them to access the hospitals downtown. I think connecting to downtown is a priority. I don’t think many local residents want to travel west on transit. Why isn’t downtown a priority for this Project?

A6: The Eglinton 32 Bus today is actually busier travelling westbound than it is eastbound. The City recognizes that providing a connection to downtown is important but it is not the only connection/ route that is important.


Q7: The City has not spoken about comparison of Options 1 and 4 related to speed and capacity. Option 1 – Surface-running LRT with 10 stops will have increased travel time compared to Option 4 because of projected growth in 2041. What will the capacity and speed of Option 4 be?

A7: Capacity of Option 4 is different as the LRT would have seven (7) stops instead of 10. Headway (the average amount of time between LRT vehicles) is assumed to be the same for each Option (approximately three (3) minutes). Capacity of Option 4 would be increased compared to Option 1 because the LRT would travel faster.
Post Meeting Correction: Capacity of all options is the same: 5,900 passengers per hour. Option 4 travels faster, but does not have a higher capacity.

Alicia Evans (AECOM): We plan to hold a dedicated conversation about the Options Analysis in the breakout session following this presentation.


Q8: Can you clarify that there were four (4) options considered and the City will be recommending Option 1 to Council? Does this mean Options 2 – 4 will not be investigated further?

A8: The City feels that Options 2 and 3 are not worth pursuing further and would like your feedback on this. We are suggesting that Option 1 is preferred but will not be finalizing our recommendation until the Phase 2 Public Meetings take place. We are seeking feedback from the SAG this evening and will seek feedback from the public next week. This feedback will be included in the City’s report to Council in the spring.


Eglinton West Planning and Streetscape Study - Presentation

Paul Kulig (Perkins + Will) delivered a brief presentation on the Eglinton West Planning and Streetscape Study. Topics covered in the presentation include:

  • What we heard at the last SAG meeting;
  • What we’ve done since the last SAG meeting;
  • Eglinton Connects vision, lenses and recommendations;
  • Eglinton West concept plan; and,
  • Preliminary conceptual streetscape plan.

Paul finished the presentation by asking attendees to think about the following questions when reviewing the display boards and participating in the breakout session:

  • Do the Design Moves capture what you feel is important for the future Eglinton West?
  • Are there any other opportunities that should be considered in the Conceptual Streetscape Plan?
  • Do the preliminary recommendations align with the emerging vision for each segment?


Breakout Sessions

Following the presentations, Alicia asked all attendees to split into two (2) groups to attend the breakout session of most interest to them. To learn more about the Planning and Streetscape Study, attendees stayed in the main room with Perkins + Will staff. To learn more about the Options Analysis, attendees moved to the Staff Room with City of Toronto, TTC and AECOM staff.

Alicia asked if anyone had questions before attendees moved to their preferred breakout session. All questions were answered by Mike Logan (City of Toronto) unless noted otherwise.

Q9: Can the City explain what Option 4 is? It does not seem to be the same option the CWG members recommended, which included an at-grade solution between Mt. Dennis and Royal York Road.

A9: We have the documentation confirming the CWG’s preferred option and would be happy to discuss during the breakout session. The City will ensure all four (4) options are accurate and will review our documentation regarding Option 4.
Post Meeting Note: All correspondence shows that Option 4 was confirmed by the CWG Chair.


Q10: During the presentation the City said they heard that community members feel Eglinton Avenue is a barrier between the north and south sides. Did this comment come from the CWG? The CWG actually said that we do not want to see Eglinton become a barrier because all community members use both sides of Eglinton.

A10: The specific comment may not have been from the CWG as the City consulted with many people in the community over the last year. All of the Eglinton West LRT consultation reports, including feedback from stakeholders and the public, are available for review on our website (www.eglintonwestlrt.ca).


Q11: In Option 4, is the elevated section over the flood plain through the centre of the roadway or off to the side?

A11: The elevated section is off to the side and would have no interaction with the roadway.


Planning and Streetscape Study

Paul Kulig and Clara Romero (Perkins + Will) led the Planning and Streetscape Study breakout session.

Through discussion, the following comments were received:

  • Add fare integration
  • Protect local woodlots, large trees and green spaces along Eglinton
  • Option 1 - Surface-running LRT with 10 stops feels safer for riders, pedestrians and cyclists as grade-separated options may cause issues for emergency evacuation and/ or disruption of service (e.g., flooding)
  • The LRT running through the centre of the roadway is the safest option for pedestrians
  • Street parking on local streets does not impact traffic on Eglinton Avenue
  • Cycling groups have been in communication with the City’s Transportation Department requesting crossing islands between Fergy Brown Park and the Eglinton Flats Tennis Club and in front of the Hospital Path
  • There is substandard pedestrian and cycling infrastructure at the northeast corner of Eglinton and Scarlett due to the river embankment that could be widened with a road diet rebalance
  • We need to better understand transit ridership for students travelling to school and the impact of re-routing

Options Analysis

Brian Anders (City of Toronto) welcomed attendees to the Options Analysis breakout session and provided everyone with a copy of the draft Options Analysis summary table. He noted that the summary table is qualitative in nature, with each row representing an individual measure developed in consultation with the CWG. He also asked attendees to review the table and provide comments as the table is not yet final.

All questions were answered by Mike Logan (City of Toronto) unless noted otherwise.

Q12: Will there be any Michigan-lefts along the corridor or just J-turns?

A12: There will not be any Michigan-lefts added to the Eglinton West corridor based on community feedback. We have committed to normal left turns.


Q13: What are the capital costs for each Option based on?

A13: To get the capital cost of Option 2, 3 and 4, we divide it by Option 1 which provides the cost ratio. All cost estimates have been prepared by certified cost estimators.


Q14: Shouldn’t the City be considering overall costs instead of capital costs?

A14: In the final economic analysis presented to Council, the City will provide the 60 year lifecycle costs. Any underground system will be more expensive to maintain than any at-grade system.


Q15: Underground systems seem easier to maintain as above/ at-grade systems always have problems to fix due to inclement weather. Wouldn’t these issues be more expensive to fix than maintaining an underground system?

A15 (Dominic Ho, TTC): The modelling software does not account for the system not working. The TTC is unable to provide an estimate as to what percentage of the time the system does not work. When the system does not work, we supplement with shuttle buses. Currently, the TTC has regular weekend and evening shut downs on the underground subway system due to maintenance.


Q16: Who chose Option 1 as the preferred solution?

A16: Option 1 is the City of Toronto’s and TTC’s staff preferred concept based on the technical analysis. In the report to Council, we will also include stakeholder and public input.


Q17: What is the main objective of the Eglinton West LRT?

A17: The objective is to connect the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre to Eglinton West to Mt. Dennis, providing a connection to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and SmartTrack.


Q18: For people wanting to use transit for their daily commute to work, an underground solution would be better. Wouldn’t an at-grade system experience issues caused by extreme weather? The streetcar already experiences many issues.

A18: Reliability is an important consideration in our analysis.

A18 (Dominic Ho, TTC): Streetcars are different from LRT. Streetcars in downtown Toronto today do not function in extreme cold because a very old fleet is in operation. The old fleet is being replaced by a new fleet that is more reliable and doesn’t freeze in extreme cold. The streetcar network downtown also has a lot of switches that freeze and includes many different lines in a complex network. LRT is a one-track, bi-directional system without complex intersection turns, meaning we don’t have to worry about frozen switches and inefficient cars.


Q19: Is Option 1 completely surface-running?

A19: Yes. Option 1 is the same as the LRT that was recommended in December 2017.


Q20: Why is Option 4 different than what the CWG members proposed? There were a series of emails prior to the final decision and we think the City may have missed some of the emails, choosing the wrong option.

A20 (Brian Anders, City of Toronto): We don’t have the email correspondence with us right now but will review all correspondence following this meeting to ensure information was captured accurately. The City’s official response from the CWG was that Option 4 would include an elevated portion between Weston Road and Scarlett Road.
Post Meeting Note: All correspondence shows that Option 4 was confirmed by the CWG Chair.


Q21: Why was Option 2 ever considered? It is impossible to tunnel underneath a floodplain.

A21: It is not impossible but it is risky. The City recognized that community members and the public were asking for a variety of options, including underground. If we didn’t consider Option 2, people would have asked us to consider it.


Q22: Does the LRT have two (2) tracks?

A22 (Brian Anders, City of Toronto): Yes, the LRT is bi-directional with one (1) eastbound and one (1) westbound track.


Q23: At the last SAG meeting we asked the City to prepare an updated traffic study which seems like was never done as the numbers provided in tonight’s presentation are outdated/ incorrect. Travel time from Point A to Point B actually takes 25 – 30+ minutes, not 15 – 19 minutes. Where is the updated traffic study?

A23:  Yes, the City did conduct an updated traffic study. We can share the information with you one-on-one following the meeting and you can provide us comments on it.


Q24: What is the purpose of the SAG if the community’s preferred option is not going to be considered anyway? We all prefer an underground solution but the City is still recommending an at-grade system. It seems like the City has already decided the Eglinton West LRT will be a completely surface-running system. Change needs to happen but it has to be the right change, which is an underground system.

A24: The CWG’s option has been considered in the technical study, alongside the other options. The City will report on the results of our technical analysis as well as stakeholder and public input in our report to Council in April. City Council makes the decisions.


Q25: Approximately one (1) year ago the Mayor committed to complete a tunneling study. Has this study been completed?

A25: At the direction of City Council, the City has looked at various at-grade, above-grade and below-grade (tunneled) options. Now we are sharing the emerging findings of the studies that were conducted with community stakeholders and the public before finalizing and reporting to Council.


Q26: Are the emerging results displayed in the presentation the results of the final studies?

A26: No, studies are not final and we’re not able to provide all the details at this point. The City is committing to listen to the community, add your comments to our report to Council and take part in a transparent study process. If anyone would like to review the traffic report, they can do so, but we don’t have the time to get into all the details this evening.

C1: The information being presented to us is too high level. We don’t understand how the City came up with the final numbers displayed on the boards and in the presentation.


Q27: Has the City considered Bombardier’s deliverability as a factor? This is a huge financial risk.

A27: Deliverability will be a risk captured in the report to Council in April, but we will not be reporting on who should supply vehicles.


Q28: VIA Rail walked away from Bombardier because they can’t deliver on time. Why would the City choose to work with Bombardier?

A28: The City has not committed to Bombardier, or any procurement at this phase of the Project. Metrolinx has an agreement with Bombardier for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT but that does not impact the Eglinton West LRT. No vehicles have been purchased for the Project.


Q29: What is the anticipated construction timeline for the Eglinton West LRT?

A29: The City will be reporting to Council in April 2019 to seek direction on how to proceed. The preliminary design phase will take approximately two (2) to three (3) years to get to the procurement readiness phase. Once design is complete, it will go to tender to determine how to construct the LRT. The construction process will take approximately four (4) years. There are opportunities to streamline the process to shorten the timeline or to slow down the process.

Alicia Evans (AECOM) then clarified that the City has conducted the studies required for the Project and have displayed the emerging results. She noted the SAG members are expressing a lack of confidence in the Project and feel that something is missing. She asked attendees to voice what they think is missing.

Attendees then agreed that they feel the City is still proceeding with a surface-running LRT, even though the community has clearly stated their desire for an underground system. Attendees also noted concern for the analysis conducted and noted the growth of the airport and surrounding area/ connection to this area is an important factor for the LRT in the future. They also feel that only high-level details are shared instead of complete results.


Q30: The City is saying the LRT will be a fast, convenient way to travel but I know someone who lives on St. Clair and works in the east end but takes the Bloor subway line instead of the St. Clair streetcar. Why would someone travel further south then travel north to avoid taking the St. Clair streetcar?

A30: The Bloor subway line travels to the far east end with fewer stops than the streetcar, getting passengers to the east end faster. The St. Clair streetcar has stops 200 – 300 m apart and does not travel as far east as the subway does. The Eglinton West LRT stops are 600 m to 1 km apart, similar to the proximity of stops on the Bloor subway line, making it faster than the St. Clair streetcar. The Eglinton West LRT would also have a dedicated right-of-way and one track system, instead of the complex network the streetcar functions on.


Q31: If the LRT was to be at-grade at Scarlett, where would the above-grade track meet the at-grade track?

A31 (Michael Hain, City of Toronto): Options 3 and 4 would remain above-grade until halfway between the Scarlett and Mulham stops. The LRT would then travel underground.


Q32: Will we be able to review the City’s report to Council before it is finalized?

A32: No, you will not be able to review the report before it is published. After the report is published, you can provide comments to Council prior to their decision.

C2: If the City could rate each of the four (4) options from best to worst in each category provided in the Options Analysis summary table, it would be helpful to see what each Option would look like. If the City pulled out the top 10 themes (e.g., cost, travel time) and clearly rated each Option, we would be able to choose which Option provides the best solution to our top concerns.


Q33: Can the Options Analysis summary table be emailed to us?

A33 (Brian Anders, City of Toronto): Yes.

Post Meeting Note: Options Analysis summary table was emailed to SAG members. No additional comments on the Options Analysis table were received.


Q34: Once the City receives feedback from the SAG and from the public, will there be enough time to properly incorporate all the feedback in the report before presenting to Council?

A34: The City’s commitment to the community is to report what we’ve heard to Council. The study results we’ve displayed this evening are not final, but once the report is ready to present to Council, community comments will be added. We will do our best to provide details in a clear and concise way that people are able to engage with. The City has a responsibility to keep key concerns like cost in mind as we have budgets to maintain and taxpayer dollars to consider.


Q35: What is the best Option in terms of benefits, if cost were not an issue?

A35: The best option for benefits is probably Option 2, but you need to consider if those benefits justify the additional cost (approximately 2.8 times the cost of the surface running LRT). Option 4 is a good balance between the number of stops and speed, but it does not meet all of the City’s objectives and is more than double the cost of the surface-running LRT that does meet these objectives.


Q36: In the modelling, has extreme weather been recognized as the new norm in the future?

A36 (Michael Hain, City of Toronto): For the purpose of the model, transit is not massively impacted by weather. We do not consider worst case scenarios as the norm in the model, we consider typical conditions.

C3: Recent projects in Toronto (e.g., Vaughan extension, Eglinton East LRT and UP Express) have costs that are completely different/ much higher than what the original model predicted. When I take the UP Express and get downtown from the airport in 15 minutes, I think it’s a wonderful service and don’t care what the cost was to build it. Convenient service always wins and the most convenient service for passengers would be an underground solution. Right now/ short-term the cost of an underground system is not justified but it will be in the long-term. Mississauga should be involved in funding this Project since the objective of the Eglinton West LRT is to provide a connection to the Mississauga Airport Corporate Centre.

C4: I live at Eglinton and Martin Grove and travelling to Dufferin is different every day – often taking one (1) hour to commute less than 10 km. We want accessible transit in our community and feel like we’ve been abandoned compared to the rest of Toronto. I am hopeful and supportive of the Eglinton West LRT because our community needs better connections to the rest of the city, especially during rush hour. We have never been able to close the gap between Etobicoke and Toronto, and the Eglinton West LRT may provide a solution for this. Many people, including those commuting to and from Mississauga and the local community, will benefit from the LRT. Many SAG members drive so they don’t understand what it’s like to rely on transit in Etobicoke but I’m here to say accessible transit is necessary and overdue.


 

Next Steps & Meeting Adjournment

Following the breakout sessions, Mike Logan (City of Toronto) noted the next step was to consider the feedback from stakeholders and finalize the display boards for the public meetings taking place March 5 and 7, 2019. He then noted all feedback would be incorporated into the final report to Council, being presented in April 2019.

Alicia Evans (AECOM) then thanked everyone for attending and providing feedback and adjourned the meeting.

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